Well, all right, probably not. I doubt very many people on this site live anywhere near me. Add to that the fact that I'm sitting quietly at home and that we never could decide if I was coughing because of the flu or if my symptoms were a result of travel to a toxic city and the (admittedly fairly mild) sunburn incurred from an entire day at Disneyland....
Whether or not I'm actually sick right now isn't really my point, though.
I work in institutional housekeeping. Every day I come into indirect contact with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people in my community, doing routine cleaning at the local mall. Mostly bathrooms - you don't realize how unhygenic people really are until you see what they'll do to a public restroom.
[As an aside, it is our corporate policy to make sure our bathrooms are disinfected no less than once an hour and at this time, our bathroom floors are treated with a virucidal agent at least once if not twice a day. Chances are, my bathrooms are cleaner than the one inside your house. So relax, you can flush the toliet and turn off the faucets. It's okay, they won't eat you.]
For this largely thankless job, I get paid minimum wage. If I keep my nose clean (and my boss can justify keeping me at five days a week instead of four), I might get a week of paid vacation time next year. I do not get any paid sick leave and the medical insurance our employer offers is both a joke (too expensive for the lack of coverage) and non-COBRA.
In case anyone didn't catch the most relevant point in that last paragraph, let me repeat it: I do not get any paid sick leave.
I need all the hours my boss can give me - frightening as it is, I'm the one in my family with the largest take-home pay right now. If I get sick, I still have to go to work, or else I may end up having to choose between bills and food. Since this coughing started I called out for exactly one day and that was only because of a migraine so debilitating I was crying in pain for over three hours. In the past six months, I have missed work five times: twice for migraine, three times for severe PMS. That's it. Seasonal colds? Dosed up on daytime-formula cold medicines and worked right through them.
Now granted, I am a highly trained professional at this point. I know how to keep my germs to myself. Part of our on-the-clock work kit is industrial-grade disinfectant, which I use regularly as part of my duties. So unless I accidentally cough directly on you, I probably won't get you sick.
At least we hope not.
But what if it's something more serious than a seasonal cold? I wouldn't know it myself until I had been sick with it for an unusual amount of time (no health insurance means I am exceedingly slow to go to a doctor for anything - if I get diagnosed with anything while not insured, it gets stamped 'pre-existing condition' and future insurance won't feel the need to cover it) and who knows how many people I will have exposed to myself by then? And I'm not alone - most of my coworkers are in similar situations.
I don't mind working hard for my money, putting in a little extra effort to get past a tickle in my throat. I mind that I don't have a choice.